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RIP Murphy, The Ill-Fated Disneyland Dragon

Maleficent the dragion recoiling from a sword stab (Disney)

Alas, poor Murphy. The 45-foot fire-breathing Disneyland animatronic, a delight to all who saw her, has passed away in the sort of spectacular fashion most of us can only dream of. Yes, Murphy caught fire while performing her trademark trick of, well, breathing fire, and despite the seriousness of the situation Twitter simply couldn’t help but take the Mickey. (After all, thankfully, nobody was actually hurt.)

Who is (or was) Disneyland’s Murphy?

“Wait,” I hear you saying, “Who the heck is Murphy? That’s clearly Maleficent, the wicked fairy-turned-dragon from Sleeping Beauty.” Yes and no! Murphy was clearly intended to be Maleficent, and is referred to as such in promotional materials, but Disneyland fans call her Murphy. Perhaps you can guess why? Yep, Murphy is named after Murphy’s Law, the premise that anything which can go wrong will.

Even before the tragic night when she was taken from us, she was a thorn in Disney’s side. There’s a great write-up on Reddit by a fan named hyena142 detailing all the chaos Murphy caused over the years. To be fair, she looked amazing when she debuted, and had fans ablaze (too soon?) with excitement for her Fantasmic debut:

But there are many, many pitfalls when it comes to operating a giant mechanical fire-breathing dragon and the poor operators at Disneyland soon got to know about all of them. Murphy would sometimes freeze in place and refuse to move, like an obstinate toddler. Another time she collapsed altogether and had to be removed from the show. However, none of those incidents ignited (sorry again) public interest the way this one did.

Disney’s statement on Murphy’s demise

After Murphy’s demise, some took a moment to remember another Disney animatronic that also left this world in a fiery blaze—the parade float dragon at Disneyworld’s Magic Kingdom. This version of Maleficent ignited in a similar way during a busy parade, again thankfully causing harm to no one.

All these combusting dragons are clearly starting to bug the Disney corporation, because right after Murphy burned down they released a statement laying out how they plan to stop it happening again.

During the final showing of Fantasmic at Disneyland Park on Saturday evening, the dragon prop caught fire. Anaheim Fire and Rescue quickly responded, and the fire was extinguished. All cast members were safely evacuated from Tom Sawyer Island. Due to smoke and wind, attractions near the island were safely evacuated of any guests, and the cause of the fire remains under investigation at this time.

We are temporarily suspending fire effects similar to those used at Disneyland park’s Fantasmic at select shows and entertainment experiences globally out of an abundance of caution following the Fantasmic prop fire at Disneyland park. The continued safety of our cast and guests is of the utmost importance.

So if you were hoping to catch one of Murphy’s sister dragons breathing fire at the Disney parks, you, unfortunately, might be out of luck for a while.

Rest in peace, Murphy. Heaven has gained a new massive malfunctioning robot dragon angel.

(featured image: Disney)

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Sarah Barrett (she/her) is a freelance writer with The Mary Sue who has been working in journalism since 2014. She loves to write about movies, even the bad ones. (Especially the bad ones.) The Raimi Spider-Man trilogy and the Star Wars prequels changed her life in many interesting ways. She lives in one of the very, very few good parts of England.